Growth by Isabella Luna

Growth by Isabella Luna


Inspired by Propp’s ‘Morphology of the folk tale’ and cousin once removed to Bill Moran’s ‘bildungsroman’


31. Girl with wings pronounces it hostabul, Tasmanian poppies spilling out her gap- toothed grin.


30. Girl sings at her first funeral. Staunches the hurt with treble clefs. Wraps a ghost in her wings because she doesn’t know how to speak grief yet.


29. Hostabul. The word doesn’t make much sense. Girl writes a poem about Girl trying to say hostabul and how it doesn’t make much sense.


28. Girl takes a break. Tries coffee, toffee, banoffee pie. Holds hands with the ghost  in her wings. (Pours the coffee down the sink.)


27. Hostabul. Three generations of Girl’s family pronounced it paycheck. Over time the word stretches out to include a p and an i. ‘Hopsital?’ ‘No–’


26. Hospital. Then three generations more—


25. Papa


24. Uncle


23. Great uncle


22. —pronounce it terminal, pronounce it—


21. Hospital. Softened by age, hardened by grief. Moulded into a small, reluctant reminder in Girl’s wings.

20. ‘A lump in her wings?’ Panicked hands, disinfectant fingertips, poking, prodding—‘Hurry, check! Is it–’


19. Lymphoma


18. Leukaemia


17. Stage 4—


16. Girl sits atop the Harbour Bridge and thinks about Harold Holt. Thinks about following his sodden, sandy footprints. Dreams the word ‘salt’ for decades.


15. Girl’s teeth fill in. Remind her of picket fences and tombstones and white cell counts. Don’t leave room for Tasmanian poppies. Girl bites down hard on sympathetic words and floundering hands.


14. Girl’s wings start to shed:

featherdown first,

then weight,

then colour,

then breath.


13. Girl and her wings become vibrating storm clouds. Her stomach turns to dishwater, mouth full of broken dishes, and she says, ‘Mama, some day I’ll become a symphony!’ Vomits a sea of blood and iceberg teeth.


12. Girl trades poems for platelets. Side effects include bipolarity and hallucinations. Girl tells Emily Dickinson to hold the door for Wonder Woman because she’s got her arms full carrying the weight of all this poemself.


11. Girl is some parts cactus: difficult to love, and some parts African violet: difficult to keep alive.

[10 DAYS]. Girl spreads wax wings: flies too close to the chemo and gets radiation poisoning.


[9 DAYS]. Girl eats spoonfuls of sugar to tell her mama: ‘Mama, it’s ok, please don’t cry, I’m going to be fine’, but runs out of sugar for the last part so it sounds more like ‘I’m going to die’.


[8 DAYS]. Girl cradles the bomb inside her. Devises defensive strategies to minimise the blast radius.


[7 DAYS]. Girl reads the beginning and end of every book she can find, scrawls poems in the margins because she can’t stand the thought of leaving unread words unwritten words behind.


[6 DAYS]. Girl writes ‘I am this poem’ and a thousand paper cranes break free from her tiny chest. (Reminder: fold this poem into a paper crane for a tiny chest.)


[5 DAYS]. Girl becomes porcelain; shatters daily. Stops apologising. Doesn’t buy any more groceries.


[4 DAYS]. Girl dreams in neon violet and merlot. Crushes plums to reach their hearts, squeezes her lungs and greets their x-ray shadows with guilty relief.


[3 DAYS]. Girl tucks into bone wings, folds into glass arms, curls into pastel knees. Spends the day bleeding into the plaster. Vomits Hallmark In Sympathy cards. Broken ribs like daisy chains, bones brittle enough to make wishes upon. She tells her mama to give them—these bones, this poem—to palaeontologists.


[2 DAYS]. Girl keeps a sealed jam jar of breath by the bed just in case ‘cause her mama taught her how to prepare for almost everything (almost) so she writes in the poem how her mama taught her how to prepare for almost everything (almost) then writes ‘how do I prepare for this’ inside her left lung and runs out of breath (panics) trying to (‘how do I’) answer—

1. Girl has ghost wings and she pronounces it

home hell help hurts hospital

Writes the last words:

here, right here.


Find more from Isabella on Twitter and check out her work with Enough Said Poetry Slam on Instagram.


Executive Producers

Karolina Ristevski

Sue White

Daniel Henson

Elliot Cameron

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